Sunday, 22 September 2013

From Windows to Ubuntu Linux - A success story

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  20:26 19 comments


Here is a guest post from Jeremy Cook.

Jeremy Cook is a Mechanical Engineer, avid tinkerer, and part time Linux user. You can find him on Twitter at JeremySCook https://twitter.com/JeremySCook or at his DIY camera-related blog: DIYTripods.com http://diytripods.com/

This article details Jeremy's move from Windows to Ubuntu.



At some point in 2011, I decided to download Ubuntu and try it out on my Lenovo T60 running off of the disk without installing. After becoming either bored or frustrated with it, I decided to go back to running Windows XP. The disks then sat in my desk drawer for several months until my aging notebook's HDD decided to crash.

Normally, Windows XP would have been reinstalled on this computer, but for some reason it just wasn't working. I'm a Mechanical Engineer, so I'm not totally technologically inept, but the reason it wouldn't install wasn't apparent to me. After considering buying a new computer, using the Ubuntu disk seemed like a long shot, but I had nothing to loose.

To my surprise, Ubuntu installed on my HDD without any problem whatsoever. I had backed up most of my important files with Dropbox, which has a Linux client, so restoring everything was just a matter of installing the program and signing in. Although not every program is listed, the Ubuntu Software Center makes programs on it extremely easy to install.

I doubt I could currently use Linux as my primary OS at work, simply because of software issues. However, for someone that mostly surfs the Internet, writes, and does some light programming and drafting at home, it worked quite well. Chrome and Firefox are available natively on Ubuntu, and LibreOffice (which I'm now using under Windows) is a very sufficient replacement for MS Office. GIMP is great for photo editing, and the feature that lets you play with multiple workspaces is an incredible tool for blogging. I didn't really understand multiple worspaces at first, but oned you're accustomed to it, it's quite nice.

As for the Tinkering, I programmed an Arduino with it, and also something called a PyMCU (http://www.circuitsforfun.com/). The latter was after learning the basics of the built-in Python programming language. I even learned some scripting, which is incredibly powerful, although maybe not the most user-friendly feature. Finally, the AutoCAD-clone Draftsight is available on Ubuntu (my review http://www.jcopro.net/2012/01/28/a-review-of-draftsight-for-ubuntu-linux/) natively, so that took care of my need for a 2D drafting program for home use.

One thing that I did feel was lacking was a professional-level video editing package. Openshot works OK, and was likely crippled by my aging machine. I do a lot of time-lapse videos (see my youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/jscook55), and after 200 or so frames, the editor would crash. I upgraded to a much newer computer with Windows 8, and promptly obtained a copy of PowerDirector.

My video editing capability is much better now, but I definitely miss things about Linux. The multiple workspaces are, of course, awesome, and I enjoyed some of the built-in programming functionality. Also, the general lack of bloatware is very nice.

If you have a PC that's reaching the end of its usable life, I'd encourage you to give Ubuntu a try. It kept my notebook going for a year and a half as my primary PC, and I still use it to check email, and surf the web when my other notebook isn't handy.

Why not check these out?




To make it easier for everyone who wants to read my Ubuntu based articles and tutorials I have formatted them, rewritten them and added extra content which has resulted in the eBook "From Windows To Ubuntu".

The book isn't massive like a SAMS guide so it isn't going to take you forever to read it but there is certainly a lot of content.

Click here to buy the eBook "From Windows To Ubuntu"

About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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19 comments:

  1. Ubuntu is NOT a good choice to install on "old" hardware "anymore" since it requires 3d acceleration to run the Desktop Environment.... Lubuntu is a far far far better choice

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  2. Seems the NSA back-door in Windows hasn't discouraged people from using Windows. Well for me, my story is one of true success. In 2012 I moved TOTALLY to Linux with Xubuntu.

    I got tired of Malware, forced upgrades, limited customizing and Microsoft's hatred of Open Source. I was just in time to, Steam for Linux came out shorty after I switched. Quite frankly, there has never been a better time to switch then now. I used Windows for 15 years, and tinkered with Linux off and on, never really finding it to be usable.

    Last year, after research into software replacements and seeing if my hardware worked, I found that Xubuntu was the one to free me from Microsoft's slave chains. The 1st thing a person should do is:

    1) Make sure your hardware works with Linux
    2) Find suitable replacements for what you use, there is NO shortage of games and apps on Linux.

    If you can do that, then you can finally ditch that crutch (windows) and move to an OS that doesn't shackle you and treat you like a criminal and a slave.

    By the way I have experimented with distros for old computers and NONE of them work great. It seems Linux has left our old computers behind. The only 2 that worked well on a Pentium 3 with 512MB ram was: Absolute Linux and Q4OS; which left only 26MB of RAM free. But if you can find and upgrade that type of old ram for those computers, then it shouldn't be an issue to use a newer OS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that part of the issue with really old hardware is that, though you can find a way to run Linux acceptably, it won't be very user friendly. Also, the Internet is no longer a friendly place toward hardware that old. It expects you to have more power under the hood. Remember that ten or possibly even twelve year old computers are still Pentium 4 machines. There are plenty of machines that my company has simply written off that are Pentium 4 machines.

      The last I knew, Puppy Linux ran pretty well on hardware that old, especially if you used Wary Puppy. However, Puppy Linux removes a lot of the default security measures in Linux, so it's not a very secure distribution. Also, if you are using Wary, there aren't a lot of extra readily available packages (this is somewhat of a concern on really old hardware no matter what).

      Depending on what kind of odd hardware you might have, you could also try things like Tiny Core, Slax, or SliTaz (or possibly even the latest DSL release candidate). As I mentioned, these distributions tend not to be the most newbie friendly.

      For hardware that's not quite so limited, you could load a minimal Debian or Slackware and add a lightweight desktop, or try something like Crunchbang, Arch Linux, or AntiX. Again, some of these solutions are not very newbie friendly.

      Delete
    2. I'm bemused by your ressponse. machines 'that old' (P4) are perfectly adequate for running most Linux distributions quite adequaltely. This was demonstrated a few years ago when 'netbooks such as the Eeepc (and such deveices returned for replacement showed the same figures for Linux and Windows, so forget that myth).

      That the internet isn't friendly place for the average Windows user doesn't mean that a Linux (or Mac) user needs to be quite so fearful.

      Gnome on ARch Linux, debian, Slitaz takes up as much space as it does on an 8-core box.

      Regarding hardware compatability, every time I upgraded Windows I had problems with hardware - including a scanner that I'm quite happily using 12 years after XP wasn't able to work it. I did have problems for some years with a modem, but that was because Broadcom didn't release drivers, an external modem resolved that.

      The recommended minimum standars for the bloated Ubuntu format is 700 MHz processor, 500MB memory & 5 GB of disk space.

      So please stop with the FUD. The only reason to use Windows is for specialised software (such as the author uses). Although Linux is the norm in Hollywood for both CGI and animation in films.

      Delete
    3. I have to agree with kwacka, a P4 is a great choice and with as little as 1GB Ram Linux runs pretty good. As a matter of fact I encourage people to switch to either Mint or Xubuntu when their thinking of replacing their old P4.

      Delete
    4. I have to agree with kwacka, a P4 is a great choice and with as little as 1GB Ram Linux runs pretty good. As a matter of fact I encourage people to switch to either Mint or Xubuntu when their thinking of replacing their old P4.

      Delete
  3. I'm with the first Anonymous poster above. I've tried Unity -- can't stand it. If you have a fairly new computer, then I would come a LOT closer to recommending something with KDE as its desktop instead, such as Kubuntu or Netrunner. Personally, I prefer to stick to either LXDE or, my personal favorite desktop, Xfce, even on newer machines.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Guest Author here - I suppose I didn't mention it, but I was using GNOME shell instead of the Unity interface. I didn't really like Unity either.

      Delete
  4. I usually use kdenlive for video editing on ubuntu. I also use the kde desktop environment. Try loading Ubuntu inside virtualbox on Windows8 and try other options. The beauty of linux is that there are always different options, and the choice is yours.

    ReplyDelete
  5. For older hardware (Pentium III, 500 Mhz, 256MB Ram, 700MB hard disk space), I recommend Puppy Linux version Lucid Puppy 5.2.8 (can use Lucid Lynx ubuntu repositories) or Slacko 5.3.3. (uses slackware 13.37 or 14 repositories) The newer versions are Precise Puppy 5.7.1 (August 3, 2013) or Slacko 5.6. I personally have used a full hard drive install for my Puppy needs starting with version 4.1.11 upto present 5.2.8, but many people use frugal install with their existing Windows setup. You can even use a USB Flash Disk install with puppy linux. See http://linuxliveusb.com or http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net for tools that work with Windows to create a bootable USB Flash drive install of a Linux Distro.
    Need a free power tool to burn a .ISO image file to a CD/DVD from Windows? Use ISORecorder http://alexfeinman.com/isorecorder.htm
    Older hardware BIOS can not boot from USB Flash Drive? use plopkexec or plopbt
    http://www.plop.at/en/plopkexec.html review here booting plopkexec.iso from a CD Drive http://sharuzzaman.blogspot.com/2013/04/how-to-boot-from-usb-drive-even-if-your.html

    Puppy Linux is small (less than 170 mega bytes), loads itself completely into DRAM so that makes it fast and you can then remove the CD drive you booted from to use the CD drive for other purposes. Puppy Linux has most all the tools for surfing the internet (firefox, iron, or seamonkey browser.), emailing Thunderbird, writing Abiword, play music VLC plus many other useful utilities. Easy enough to try, download .iso file and burn a CD and boot it as a Live Linux CD. With Puppy Linux booted from CD, use the USB install utility to burn a copy into a USB Flash Drive. Puppy Linux is very user friendly, accessible from the GUI desktop "MENU" button. Puppy Package Manager allows you to install other software packages from the Puppy and Ubuntu Lucid Lynx repositories. Running as "ROOT" simplifies operations as a new user. Its your computer, do what you want/need to do. You can run the web browser as user "SPOT" if you feel the need. I have had zero problems running as root. Puppy is small, fast, and makes using an older computer pleasant! Give it a try.
    If you have the newer computer hardware with 512MB ram and 10 Gigabytes of hard disk drive space, then consider using Linux Mint http://www.linuxmint.com. Use http://linuxliveusb.com to download and install Linux Mint onto a USB Flash Drive and run in a virtualbox or total boot Linux Mint. I used the Linux Mint 14 on a laptop this way and really liked it. You have your choice of Cinnamon or MATE desktop. There are different versions of Linux Mint, I used the one based on Ubuntu which should be compatible with the DraftSite CAD software mentioned above. Linux Mint has better new user feel than Ubuntu. My desktop is still Puppy Linux 5.2.8 that I leave running 24 hours a day and host a few torrent with.

    ReplyDelete
  6. NSA backdoor in Windows? What about the NSA backdoor in linux? Or maybe you don't know the NSA wrote the SElinux that's in the linux kernel? Or that TOR browser that everyone loves for its anonymity and security was created by the NSA. Or about dozens and dozens of other additions to the kernel and the apps that come from the NSA. Maybe you should deeply research ARM technology. It will make you puke. Those ARM chips are derived from ACORN. Those chips are loaded with hidden circuitry that can be enabled and used without your knowledge. Remember the Iranian centrifuges? ARM technology did it. ARM and Android, the perfect tools for big brother.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Try VLC's beta video editor: https://trac.videolan.org/vlmc/

    ReplyDelete
  8. (Quote: Mike Frett "By the way I have experimented with distros for old computers and NONE of them work great. It seems Linux has left our old computers behind.")

    All I have is old hardware... My desktop is a Dell with a single Intel Celeron processor and a little over 1 GB RAM. I use PCLinuxOS on it and it works beautifully. I have changed from the KDE desktop to Xfce because it's lighter. I do everything I need to do on this computer. I urge everyone to try PCLinuxOS. Meemaw

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But you see what I'm talking about? You have 1GB ram and thats excellent. Most of those computers came stock with 512 or less and if a person can't find that type of ram anymore...then that computer is worthless on that minimum amount of RAM. I don't recommend less than 1GB.

      And I never said a P3 was inadequate guys, just the RAM.

      Delete
  9. A great article! But, what about Linux Mint, with Cinnamon desktop?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! That might be a great distro to try, but honestly I loaded up Ubuntu and didn't really try anything else.

      Delete
  10. While I would lean toward Linux Mint for total ease of use for the new Linux user, I would say that Xubuntu runs well on older hardware, even with LibreOffice installed. One things new users have at there disposal is choice. Create a few live CDs or USB and see what works best for the machine you're using and the take the plunge.

    ReplyDelete

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